Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Chirinos latest catcher to be traded
ARLINGTON, Texas - The Rays traded C
Robinson Chirinos to the Rangers on Monday for a player to be named or cash. Add that trade to the one Friday that sent C/OF Stephen Vogt to the A’s for the same exchange and the Rays moved two catchers with major-league experience within four days.
That leaves the organization thin with catching in the upper levels of the minor-league system. Chris Gimenez is the everyday catcher at Triple-A Durham and would be the first called up should the need arise with the Rays. Mark Thomas is the everyday catcher at Double-A Montgomery. Though the Rays like Thomas, he’s more than a year away from playing in Tampa Bay.
“All I would say is that I don’t think any team really has beyond three (major-league ready catchers in the organization),” GM Andrew Friedman said. “It’s one of those things that you would like to have four or five sure, and we did have that, but in going through and assessing where we were and what might transpire over the course of the season, something has to give. And in this case it was our very deep depth on the catching front.”
Both Chirinos and Vogt were designated for assignment March 31 when the Rays added DH Shelley Duncan and RHP Jamey Wright to the 40-man roster. Sensing both would be claimed off waivers, the Rays decided to trade them. Also, with Gimenez and Thomas set in their full-time roles, there wouldn’t be much playing time for Chirinos and Vogt.
Jamie Nelson, the Rays’ assistant hitting coach/catching coach and the former roving catching instructor in the organization, said Thomas is a player to watch.
“He can throw as well as anybody. He’s learning how to call a better game. He’s improving in that category. He’s blocking the ball pretty well. His receiving’s improved,” Nelson said. “As far as the defensive part, his last three years have been unbelievable and the stats back it. We’re hoping that he starts getting the offense going, be more consistent and then you’re going to see a pretty good ballplayer.”
Craig Albernaz is the backup catcher at Durham, but he’s seen as more of an organizational player. Plus, his offense is not nearly where it needs to be to catch at the major-league level even for a team that doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on offense behind the plate.
“The guys that are left, defensively I think we’re covered,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Vogt was probably the one guy who showed more offensive promise. Robinson was out all last season so that’s really hard to gauge. So there is probably a thinning of the ranks, but I don’t necessarily think we’ve been impacted too badly.”
Niemann out for year RHP Jeff Niemann will undergo surgery on his right shoulder this week. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Fender bender The Rays’ team bus, making its first of two runs to the ballpark, pulled away from the team hotel in Fort Worth on Monday afternoon and was making a left turn when it was rear-ended. No injuries were reported and after 15 minutes the bus continued on its way to Arlington.
In fact, most of those on board didn’t even realize there was an accident until the bus driver pulled off and left the bus.
“You barely could feel the impact,” Maddon said.
Said OF Sam Fuld, “I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m not filing any lawsuits.”
Who’s he? RHP Nick Tepesch makes his major-league debut tonight for the Rangers. With only one outing above Double-A, the Rays know very little about Tepesch. That could be a problem for a team that relies heavily on scouting reports of their opponents. “I think more than anything in a game like that, if there’s any way you can avoid expanding your strike zone and make him throw strikes, make him get you out, make him earn his outs is the thought I’ve always had,” Maddon said.
Player of the week? Orioles 1B Chris Davis was named AL player of the week after hitting .455 with three doubles, four home runs, 17 RBIs and five runs in six games, with much of that damage coming in three games against the Rays.
“That should be player of the month, because there is nothing anybody else can accumulate in the next couple of weeks that’s going to surpass what he did in the first week. Just give him the whole month,” Maddon said.